PMT 2020-018 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
A year ago I published a three-part series of articles noting that the Disciples were often confused about Jesus’ teaching (PMW 2019-002; PMW 2019-003; and PMW 2019-004). This observation is significant for properly understanding the nature and implications of their question, which prompts the Olivet Discourse. Their question appears in Matthew 24:3:
“As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the Disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’”
I noted — as do a great many orthodox, evangelical scholars — that the Disciples mistakenly assumed the destruction of the temple prophesied by Jesus in v. 2 would occur at the end of the world, when Jesus returns in judgment. Their confusion explains their double question, which leads Jesus to divide their double question. His division of their question has him present the near-term fulfillment of the temple’s destruction in AD 70, which serves as a distant adumbration, a typological harbinger of the Second Advent/Final Judgment conclusion of world history.
AD 70 and the Final Judgment are directly related. They are, however, not related historically. Rather they are related theologically, though being distantly separated in time. This theological v. historical relationship is much like the several distinct OT “day [singular!] of the Lord” events that are related to and point to the final Day of the Lord that is mentioned in the NT.
In various places I have presented numerous arguments explaining the double-question and how Jesus separates it into its two component parts. I have noted the importance of the transition text at Matt. 24:33–36. For the most part, my arguments have largely been derived from various reputable scholars, such as J. M. Kik, R. T. France, David A. Garland, Jeffrey A. Gibbs, Jeannine K. Brown, etc. Thus, these arguments are neither unique to me, nor are they new to the eschatological debate with the recent arising of the Hyper-preterist heresy.
Have We Missed the Second Coming:
A Critique of the Hyper-preterist Error
by Ken Gentry
This book offers a brief introduction, summary, and critique of Hyper-preterism. Don’t let your church and Christian friends be blindfolded to this new error. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com
The idea that the Disciples were confused here, just as they were often confused at other times, has intrigued some of my readers. Especially since the Disciples spend so much time learning from the greatest teacher the world has ever known, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 7:28–29; Luke 24:31–32).
How can this be? How can these hand-picked “disciples” (learners) misconstrue the three-year, daily instruction of their Master, known as “Teacher” (Matt. 8:19; 9:11; 12:38; 17:24; 19:16; 22:16, 24, 36; 26:18) regularly misunderstand Jesus’ instruction? The short answer, of course, is: the problem is not in Jesus’ teaching ability, but in his Disciples’ sinful dullness (cp. Matt. 8:17; Luke 24:25; John 14:9).
This New Series
In this series of articles I will not only be highlighting the fact, but the significance of the fact of the Disciples’ frequent confusion. This is so important for our understanding their confused question in Matt. 24:3. I will focus on the Disciples’ confusion in Matthew’s narrative, since it seems to be emphasized by Matthew and plays a large role in the development of his narrative storyline. These studies have arisen from my researching a book, tentatively titled: Olivet in Context: A Commentary on Matthew 21–25.
My readers might be interested to know that the idea of the Disciples’ confusion receives great emphasis in Narrative Criticism and has become a common focus of discussion among Narrative Critical scholars. Just briefly I must note the basic point of (the newer) Narrative Criticism over against the (too often liberal) practice of (the older) Redaction Criticism in approaching the Gospels.
An Eschatology of Victory
by J. Marcellus Kik
This book presents a strong, succinct case for both optimistic postmillennialism and for orthodox preterism. An early proponent in the late Twentieth-century revival of postmillennialism. One of the better non-technical studies of Matt. 24. It even includes a strong argument for a division between AD 70 and the Second Advent beginning at Matt. 24:36.
For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com
Just briefly: Redaction Critics study the development of the Gospels, arguing that the Gospels were built up as edited and re-edited (redacted) documents over several decades in the first century. They try to discover the various pieces (sources) of “Jesus material” that lie behind the Gospel stories. Narrative Critics, however, do not concern themselves with the origins (i.e., redactional development) of the Gospels. Rather they focus on the Gospels as completed documents. They seek to understand each Gospel as we have it: as a complete, fully-formed historical document.
Perhaps one of the most helpful Narrative Critical studies of the very issue before us is by Dr. Jeannine K. Brown. She follows much of the thinking of R. T. France’s orthodox preterist analysis of Matthew 24. Her insightful book arose from her 2001 Ph.D. dissertation from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her book is titled: The Disciples in Narrative Perspective: The Portrayal and Function of the Matthean Disciples (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002). (If any of my readers can find out a copy of this book for an affordable price, I hope you will let me know!)
I will be drawing on the work of Brown and others as I flesh out this presentation of the Disciples’ confusion in Matthew’s Gospel. I hope that you will follow this series and my line of thinking so that you will not be a Confused Disciple. Stay tuned!
JESUS, MATTHEW, AND OLIVET
I am currently researching a commentary on Matthew 21–25, the literary context of the Olivet Discourse from Matthew’s perspective. My research will demonstrate that Matthew’s presentation demands that the Olivet Discourse refer to AD 70 (Matt. 24:3–35) as an event that anticipates the Final Judgment at the Second Advent (Matt. 24:36–25:46). This will explode the myth that Jesus was a Jewish sage focusing only on Israel. The commentary will be about 250 pages in length.
If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!